Defending champs deny Wildcats state berth again

By Kristi Nixon

MASON CITY — Riceville head coach Darcy Fair knew what she was up against even back when the regional pairings were announced.

Riceville senior Madison Mauer puts up a shot in the first half of the Class 1A Region 1 final against top-ranked Algona Garrigan at Mason City High School. Mauer hit three three-pointers for nine points in the 76-41 season-ending loss. EJ Photo/Kristi Nixon

However, she and the Wildcats were determined to play the regional final against the defending state champion Algona Garrigan girls’ basketball team with no fear, playing their game.

It still proved to be too big of a hill to climb as the Golden Bears dealt Riceville only its second loss of the season, ending it with a 76-41 Class 1A Region 1 loss on Thursday, Feb. 23.

“They had everybody back, so we knew it was going to be tough,” coach Fair said. “We knew that they were going to be solid as they were last year, everybody returning; we weren’t surprised – we worked to be the best at what we do, playing some man with some backside help, which is hard when you are fronting someone. Our girls had to run pretty hard on some things.

“We tried a couple of other different zone defenses on them: our 3-2 seemed to work a little better than our 2-3. They’re solid outside shooters, and when you have people focused on the big girl in the middle, it’s hard to cover the shooters on the outside. And we’re just not as big as them. That’s reality.”

Iowa State University-bound 6-foot-3 Audi Crooks scored a game-high 30 points and Garrigan’s shooters from the outside nailed seven three-pointers in building a formidable lead by halftime (36-20).

Whereas the Wildcats used some boys’ players to simulate the size of Crooks in 2022, coach Fair said she decided not to do that this year.

“I felt the girls gave it their best, and that’s all we can ask,” coach Fair said. “This year I felt we just needed to focus on us, and sometimes when you bring different people in, it changes your focus a little bit, and we just decided to go with what we have and be us to the best of our ability.”

The full story and more photos are available in the March 1 print and e-editions of the Enterprise Journal.

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